2. BUY it! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Career · Novel Concepts and Interesting Research · Self Improvement · Skills

BR 255: Range by David Epstein

Category: 2 – BUY it! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: I think this book is an important read as it is an antidote to the “start early and specialize as quickly as possible” advice that is sometimes peddled. While it might appear that David Epstein is against the notion of deliberate practice and specialization, I didn’t take it as such. Instead, his push is for us to appreciate breadth and the meandering path we might take to figure out what we want to specialize in. He makes the case (repeatedly) that the meandering path gives us the range to make the specialization count.

Top 3 Lessons:

1. Breadth of experiences are both key and undervalued. So, take the time to choose where you’d like to focus.

2. Lean into what your experiences have given you. And, also remember to lean into the experiences you are presented with. The dots only connect backward.

3. There is no such thing as “falling behind.” Comparisons are useless too. You are on your own unique path – one that will be defined by the range of skills you develop.

1. Read ASAP! · Bio/Autobiographies · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Leadership · Management

BR 254: The Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger

Category: 1 – Read ASAP! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: This book is to corporate leaders what “Shoe Dog” is to sports entrepreneurs and “The Hard Things About Hard Things” is to tech entrepreneurs. Surprisingly candid, incisive, and insightful. A phenomenal read – the sort of book that should be mandatory reading in every graduate school of business.

Top 3(+) Lessons: 

1. There’s a wonderful story about how Bob got Roy Disney to waive off a lawsuit against him early in the book. The lawsuit was a culmination of years of perceived slights and pent up frustration against the Disney board and leadership. Bob gave Roy the title of Chairman Emeritus, a small consulting fee, and an office at Disney. While folks criticized Bob for bending over to Roy’s demands, Bob shared that most people just want a bit of respect. And, in difficult situations, it is so important to not let our ego get in the way of that happening.

2. I love how straightforward Bob is through the course of the book. There is no false humility. He believed he deserved to be CEO, hated that he was made to go through the ringer for it, and made it count when he got the chance.

3. That said, he also demonstrated a lot of patience as he went through a series of changes and acquisitions before getting the job. He was 54 when he finally became CEO.. and, boy, did he make it count.

4. “Avoid getting into the business of manufacturing trombone oil. You may become the greatest manufacturer of trombone oil in the world, but in the end, the world only consumes a few quarts of trombone oil a year.”

5. There was an incredible anecdote about how he pulled the plug on the Twitter acquisition on the sunday before the deal was announced. “It just didn’t feel right” – he’d earned the right to trust his gut by then.

6. When faced with expected internal resistance about Disney+, he convinced the Board to change all executive bonus agreements to a rating decided by him on how much they were contributing to the shift to streaming. Another brave move.

 

3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Business · Technology

BR 252: Trillion Dollar Coach by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: Got off to a promising start as it promised to detail how Bill Campbell became such an influential executive coach. However, it quickly just became a gushing list of platitudes. So, the book works as a lovely memoir if you knew Bill Campbell in some ways. For folks who’d like to learn more about the “how” behind Campbell’s magic, it falls short.

3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Novel Concepts and Interesting Research

BR 250: Who Gets What and Why? by Alvin E Roth

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: This was a case of reality unable to meet expectations. Prof Roth is a Nobel Prize winner thanks to his pioneering work on creating a market for kidney transplants and it was recommended by a good friend who works with me on our hiring marketplace at LinkedIn. The book started off with plenty of promise as he spoke about the impact of marketplaces in our lives.. but the book was understandably focused on the marketplaces he’s worked on (kidney exchange, school enrollment, and law clerk enrollment). It is great in many respects and opened my eyes to some of the complexities involved in these markets.

It was just not what I was seeking. :)

1. Read ASAP! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Creativity · Design · Novel Concepts and Interesting Research · Technology

BR 249: Alchemy by Rory Sutherland

Category: 1 – Read ASAP! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: Book of the year. It’s impact on me was as follows – every time I hear someone say “that makes sense – should work” or something similar, I stop in my tracks and remind myself that things that the idea that things that make sense should work is a falsehood.” Alchemy has put in a reminder as strong as any that things that work don’t need to make sense and that a dash of alchemy is often what we need to solve problems. In that sense, its impact on me was profound.

Top 3 Lessons: 

1. The opposite of a good idea is often a good idea. The most successful supermarkets post recession were either really cheap or really expensive. Luxury brands work. So do mass market ubiquitous ones.

2. The Earl of Sandwich asked for a type of food that would allow him to eat without leaving the gambling table. The sandwich since has received mass adoption. But innovation happens at the edges. Not for the average user.

3. Why do we have reason? So many animals have survived just fine without it and evolution doesn’t plan for the future and predict reason will be necessary for us to send someone to the moon. One interesting theory is that we developed reason as a way of justifying our actions to others – a necessary investment in a legal and PR department in a highly social species.

It is honestly really hard to bring this down to a top 3.

3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Technology

BR 248: Valley of Genius by Adam Fisher

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: This book would be category 2 if you are a technology buff. It is a wonderfully put together collection of commentary of the story of Silicon Valley in a unique format – as excerpts from various interviews. I loved the first half of the book as there was a lot about the early history of the valley that was new to me.

Top Lessons:

  1. I was frequently reminded of the notion of clusters of talent. It happened at Fairchild Semiconductor (leading to Intel), happened at General Magic (leading eventually to the iPhone), and then at PayPal and so on.
  2. History doesn’t repeat itself.. but it does rhyme. A lot of the issues around content moderation were faced in “The Well” and a lot of what Napster struggled with was a precursor to Spotify.
3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Career · Psychology · Relationships

BR 247: The Algebra of Happiness by Scott Galloway

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: The Algebra of Happiness is a nice collection of his weekly newsletters with many nice nuggets. This book didn’t rank as high on my list as I’d already seen most of the content. I guess I was looking for something I hadn’t seen when I read the book.

Top Lessons:

  1. Hard work and lack of balance early in your career has a disproportionate impact later in your career. Speed matters. There’s no right way to do it. It involves trade offs.
  2. Most important decision you make is who you marry. Good sex is 10% of a good relationship but bad sex can be 90%. Aside from that, your values – especially on money matter a lot.
  3. The ratio of how much you sweat to watching others sweat is a leading indicator to success.
1. Read ASAP! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Novel Concepts and Interesting Research

BR 246: The Diet Myth by Tim Spector

Category: 1 – Read ASAP! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: A must read. Tim Spector is a geneticist who does a fantastic job tackling the many myths that surround nutrition. This is a book I’ve recommended in every conversation about diet since.

Top 3 Lessons:

1. There is no perfect diet because it is an interaction between the person’s gut microbes and the food. Everyone reacts to different things differently.

2. Focus on natural, plant based, foods, Milk and food with living bacteria (yoghurt, cheeses), etc., are recommended. You won’t go wrong with diet that worked for your grandmother. Everything is best in moderation.

3. Avoid artificial/synthesized food, vitamins, and antibiotics.